Renny Richmond is in position to leave the Valley Isle with more individual state high school titles than any male in Maui Interscholastic League history.
Now, the Seabury Hall senior and five-time state champion knows where he will take his swimming talents in the fall.
Richmond decided at lunchtime Wednesday to accept a scholarship from the University of Arizona, one of about 30 offers the 2011 junior national champion in the 100-meter butterfly had to choose from.
Renny Richmond’s lifetime best in the 100-yard butterfly is 47.09 seconds.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"I couldn't really decide, so I just went with the gut feeling," Richmond said. "I just felt really comfortable with the guys and I felt like I fit in. It was kind of family, in a way."
Richmond also took official NCAA visits to Southern California, Virginia and Indiana. He had a visit to Florida scheduled, but cancelled it after Wednesday's decision.
"I'm really excited that I can start all over," Richmond said. "Now, I'm a Wildcat."
Richmond said he will sign with Arizona on Nov. 11, the first day of the early signing period.
He is the second MIL athlete to commit to a high-profile program in nine days. Last week, Maui High senior shortstop Mark Karaviotis said he will sign a baseball scholarship with Oregon.
"Absolutely," Richmond said when asked if he was relieved. "It was just one of those things that was hanging over you. It's pretty stressful. It is a fun process to go through, but by the end of it, I wanted nothing more than just to be finished."
Arizona won the NCAA men's team swimming title in 2008 and has produced 127 men's All-Americans.
"NCAA titles, absolutely a factor in my decision," he said. "This is the final step before I go there."
Richmond said he can now concentrate on his senior year, which will include a shot at the national high school record in the 100-yard fly. His lifetime best of 47.09 seconds at the state age group meet last year was just one-hundredth off the national record, but it was lowered to 46.64 by a Tennessee swimmer in February.
"I have been thinking about (the national record)," Richmond said. "Now that my trips are over I can really start to train hard and get the miles in the pool."
He also can focus on raising his grade-point average from 2.9 to above 3.0 in Seabury Hall's tough curriculum.
Richmond is currently training twice a day at the Lahaina Aquatic Center - his parents, Dawna and Ron, usually drive him an hour from their home in Haiku to morning workouts while Richmond sleeps. After school in Olinda, it is back to the LAC before going home to do schoolwork.
Richmond said he would not be where he is without his parents and Lahaina Swim Club coach Tom Popdan.
"I owe everything to them," he said. "I spend about eight hours a day in the pool and without them I wouldn't be where I am."
Richmond has a chance to surpass the all-time MIL individual state title record of six, a mark shared by Cheyne Bloch of Baldwin and Jack Pope of Lahainaluna. He will be chasing a fourth 100 fly title and a third championship in the 50 freestyle.
"I haven't really thought about it, but that's pretty cool," he said. "I think that's a good goal."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com